I’m starting with the man in the mirror.
And no message could have been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself and make a change.
-- Michael Jackson’s The Man in the Mirror
Today’s gospel passage (July 17, 2012) from Matthew 11: 20-24 tells how “Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.” He warned these residents they would be liable to judgment much more than those in towns who did not know the miracles He had performed.
St. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that the “we” the Church (at his time the Catholic Church was the only Christian Church that existed) have been blessed with “every spiritual blessing under the Heavens.” St. Luke said in his gospel that to whom “much has been given, much is expected.” (Luke 12:48)
I am a Catholic catechist who has taken a lot of flak from some who disagree with what they see as my “hard line” stance on teaching, with total agreement I might add, the Catholic faith, directly and without wavering, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
So you can see how I might be disturbed by the prominent story in the Washington Post about the Arlington, Virginia, diocesan catechists who resigned from their posts after being asked to sign an “oath of fidelity” to the teachings of the Catholic Church. (The newspaper called taking the oath a submission to the “teachings of church leaders,” as if this teaching is different from the teachings of the Church as a whole.)
I would assert that, when Catholic teaching is not taught well or in its entirety, we leave the members of our own Church, like these women in Arlington, at the mercy of being formed by a culture shaped by relativism – the belief that all people can individually discover and determine their own version of the “Truth.”
Dr. Andrew Seely, in an article “Entrusting the Future of the West of Our Children,” discussed the need of the human person to be formed through an education that involves the experience of others and from the wisdom of the past. He remarked on the influence of Rene Descartes on our present culture, mentioning how Blessed John Paul II said this scholar’s Discourse on Method paved the way for modern relativism.
“Descartes reviewed the education he had received, the finest classical education in Europe, and patronizingly rejected it point by point as a means of discovering truth, substituting his own method…” but “Descartes was terribly wrong, not only about himself but about the very capability of a human being to discover truth all by himself.”
Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute, recently interviewed on EWTN’s The World Over Live, (click here for “World Over Live” library) said the “failure” of modern Catholic catechesis is the reason for happenings like the dissent in the Arlington Diocese. He discussed the ramifications of having poorly formed Catholics making major decisions in the public sector, like Kathleen Sebelius, head of the US Department of Health and Human Services, as a major example. He also mentioned Melinda Gates, wife of millionaire Bill Gates, and self-proclaimed practicing Catholic, who has donated $560 million dollars to organizations that support distributing contraception worldwide.
In an interview on CNN, Gates said her disagreement with her own Bishop (and ultimately the Church) is not “controversial” and credited that disagreement with her own “incredible social justice upbringing.”
“You see the consequences of not getting it right,” Sirico said of the beliefs like those of Gates and Sebelius. “If we don’t teach the Melinda Gates of the future in the Diocese of Arlington and they become wealthy philanthropists and fund things that are wrong…”
And, like Sebelius, and Nancy Pelosi, and and Joe Biden, and many progeny of the Kennedy family, etc, etc, they come to very publicly declare this type of dissent with “church leaders” as OK.
Considering the Gospel and scripture passages I mentioned previously, one can understand the importance of properly passing on our Catholic faith to our young people.
I suggest you readers, if you are not already doing so, invest more time in learning the Catholic faith, informed by the incredibly appropriate for our time teachings of John Paul II. After I learned its tenants, I remember thinking how John Paul II’s Theology of the Body could greatly improve modern catechesis. Take time to learn a little bit about this amazing teaching – the resources that make this effort easier are myriad, as you can find from a simple search on the Internet.
And then bring this learning to the upbringing of the young people in your life, and maybe even go to your local parish and volunteer to be a catechist – one who has no problem taking an oath of fidelity to all the teachings of his or her Church -- the Church that Jesus told its first leader, Peter, the gates of hell will never prevail against… (Matthew 16:18)